In Appearance and Hello, Awesome momentum is building to something epic (Chapter 80)

Hi, hey, howdy, and welcome to my read-through of Bakuman Chapter 80: Appearance and Hello in which we’re back baby.

If you’re not caught up, please use this index over here to do so. There are no spoilers past the current chapter. So read easy, my dudes.

If you would like to read along and support the mangaka, please consider buying a tankobon of the current volume, subscribing to Shonen Jump, or signing up for Mangaplus. I recommend Jump because it’s literally the magazine the boys work for, but I’m not affiliated with VIZ Media, I just like it when artists make money.

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Appearance and Hello Summary

Miura and Miho

Picking up directly where we left off, Hattori asks to help Miura who obliges eagerly. Miura’s at a loss on how to proceed since his only note is to make it humorous and that doesn’t work for the boys. Hattori – who is a little one-note himself – thinks that the comedy will help but that Ashirogi needs to lean into their niche storytelling to make a cult hit. At least at first.

When asked if it should be like The World is All About Money and Intelligence, Hattori thinks it should be even less mainstream. Miura doesn’t even comprehend how that’s even possible given how hard it was to get that one shot in. Hattori continues explaining his plan to Miura.

Meanwhile, at the Studio, Shujin explains Hattori’s thinking about a dark story, but Shujin’s creative well is dry. Saiko reminds him of his present responsibilities ending Tanto. Shujin is aware but thinks their existential crisis of never working for Jump again in Six Months is a higher priority. He regrets not thinking of something beforehand.

Oh gee, Shujin, ya think?

That said, Shujin doesn’t regret the decision at all and Saiko agrees they took the right course of action and that he’ll help out with the story once they finish Tanto. Shujin has also told Kaya – although he has casually elided the existential crisis-inducing stakes. Obviously.

Saiko decides to email Miho. He gives her a short explanation and a good ol’ Ganbatte for good measure. She replies instantly (lol). She wishes him luck and explains she’s working equally hard to get her role and has gone to dozens of auditions. The fact that she’s working so hard puts even more pressure on Saiko.

Shujin’s Dumb Suggestion and Hattori’s Not Dumb Suggestion

Shujin comes back to the homestead in time for dinner. He notices that Kaya has made simpler – cheaper – meals since the news of the cancellation. She explains they have to save. Realizing what the real news might do to her, Shujin tells her not to be cheap and buy whatever she wants, giving her a bullshit excuse about poverty and stress. She’s rightfully concerned about money, but Shujin points out the deflationary bubble Japan has been going on for decades which just confuses her.

She offers to buy a lot of designer and brand name products which Shujin OK’s immediately and he’ll use as an excuse to work harder.

Yikes, bro.

Kaya sees through the gambit and offers to buy herself some Chanel Lipstick and Shujin will finish Tanto’s storyboards. Kaya thanks her hubby for his generosity but Shujin doesn’t think that’s enough money if it’s just lipstick.

Bruh.

The next day at the office, Miura asks about how their plan will work when Yamahisa plans to turn in a revised draft of True Human which is also non-mainstream. In that case, Ashirogi has to be better. That’s all.

Miura mentions all he can think about is The World Is All About Money and Intelligence and appearance. Hattori thinks that idea is gangbusters.

Miura thinks it’d be wayyy too dark but Hattori sees it as a perfect opportunity to outclass Eiji. Miura asks why Hattori didn’t run with the initial series years ago. He explains that they were middle schoolers and they didn’t want to go with something that only won third place. It’s different now.

Miura contemplates the suggestion.

The World is all about MIA

Shujin finds the suggestion incredibly dark and Saiko’s surprised Miura could come up with such an idea. Shujin is immediately creatively inspired much to Saiko’s shock. Shujin sees all the implications of being able to trade money, intelligence, and looks – especially for girls – but he worries that it’ll be too dark and will have problematic subtext about selling women’s bodies and good looks is a key to success.

Gee, I guess even Ohba has his limits huh.

Miura offers to make sure they don’t go too far off the deep end and Shujin’s totally activated. He thinks that women are motivated to be beautiful and not socially conditioned to be so and that’s why they buy makeup and this will have a shit-rolling-down-hill impact on other transactions in this fictional world. Saiko offers a potential heroine who’s beautiful all around but won’t sell: Miho’s role. Shujin speculates on ranking systems while Miura admires how fucked up this dystopia is.

Shujin starts brainstorming aloud and shooting his own ideas down at the same time. Miura gives him the reins to do with the story as he pleases. Saiko notices Miura is actually playing on Shujin’s interest to get him motivated.

Shujin offers a character who starts out ugly but intellectual before writing it off as a no-no for Shonen manga. Miura thinks Saiko’s art wont’ be that bad. Saiko sees himself getting roped in as well.

Shujin offers different possibilities for the world: the heroine likes average guys. Saiko doesn’t think that’ll work and Shujin’s excited at the prospect of writing a variety of female characters – which he is still bad at.

Pffffffft.

Miura suggests the possibility of buying youth. Shujin sees the potential of that idea and thematic elements pertaining to eternal life. Shujin needs to get writing. Miura makes an ill-timed joke about working on things you like which appropriately earns him the stink eye.

Miura approves Tanto’s final storyboards and orders Saiko to start on Character Designs for MIA immediately. Shujin and Miura talk into the night about MIA and after Miura leaves, the boys note that Miura has sincerely changed with all these suggestions and they don’t want to let him down.

Momentum

Tanto ends smoothly and the boys release their assistants. The boys promise to rehire them in six months. The boys talk about their crisis and stakes but Shujin is pumped and convinced he can beat the odds. They’ve leveled up significantly since they started and Tanto only improved their skills further.

By Mid-July Shujin’s churning out ideas fast and heavy with an absolutely huge Chapter 2. Miura looks over the pages and tells them to cut up to page 21. Shujin orders Saiko to get to work on cleaning those 21 pages. Shujin isn’t on Chapter 3 yet. Saiko is also pumped to do his best.

At home, Shujin’s confidence is off the charts so he’s watching television and getting Saucy with his wife since he just has to tweak Chapter 3, much to Kaya’s shock.

The boys handily finish Chapter 3and Miura’s impressed by Saiko’s work. Shujin even offers notes on word choice, but Miura thinks his superiors will be fine with that given the high quality of the work.

Shizuka arrives

At Jump, Aida approves the storyboards to submit for serialization for MIA (woo) before Yamahisa comes over and…

Introduces Shizuka to Aida, who gives a nervous greeting and submits True Human to the next serialization meeting. Yamahisa introduces Shizuka to the rest of Aida’s team including Miura.

Appearance and Hello Shizuka greets Aida at the Jump offices

Miura is shocked by the introduction since it’s so rare, and Yoshida finds Shizuka offputting because of his recent status as a shut-in.

Man, fuck you Yoshida.

Yoshida explains to Miura that Yamahisa has been putting in the work socializing Shizuka and, failing serialization, he’ll get him work as an assistant. Miura’s shocked by the amount of effort Yamahisa has put in towards Shizuka and offers to make him an assistant if MIA gets serialized.

Hattori thinks Shizuka is the greatest impediment to the boy’s success and a new rival. Aida confirms that only one of them is likely to be serialized.

Miura is totally confident in MIA and finds True Human too dark.

Hattori and Aida say nothing, but give each other a pregnant look.

True Human vs. MIA

Shujin’s eager for tomorrow’s upcoming serialization and Kaya’s shocked at their turnaround; she’s indulging Shujin’s optimism. Saiko, however, remembers that Sasaki is treating them as though they were canceled early twice and few people get a new series so quickly.

Shujin’s shocked by this sober assessment and points out even Saiko thinks MIA is good. He does and Shujin’s confident he was born to make this specific series and is pumped to make it. Kaya looks for confirmation and Siako confirms this is basically a natural fit for them.

At Shueisha, Miura asks which series Hattori think is better. Hattori reverse Uno cards the question. Miura thinks MIA is better, but admits to some bias. hattori agrees and Miura even thinks the reviews are the best of all aside from calls to have it in a seinen magazine. Hattori thinks the same of True Human.

Miura thinks it’s a lock for MIA but Hattori is skeptical. Miura has a moment of doubt.

On the day of the serialization meeting, the groups are called together: Good Potstickers by Nikumi Hino will start in Issue 40 and True Human will start in Issue #41.

Miura’s shocked that MIA didn’t make the cut. But Hattori comes in and says this is better. Miura doesn’t understand and calls the boys. Everyone’s shocked MIA didn’t make it and that this is for the best.

The explanation from “Miura” is that MIA isn’t good enough to surpass Eiji and Saiko, with a smarmy grin approves of the recent change in Miura’s behavior as the Chapter concludes.

Appearance and Hello Reaction

Panel of the Week

Appearance and Hello Shujin and Saiko talk with Miura about The World is All About Money, Intelligence and Appearance (MIS)

To celebrate that we’re back, let’s look at some of the truly novel compositions in this chapter with the glorious return of Panel of the Week.

It’s really nice to have some actually interesting compositional stuff going on and not just boilerplate shot-reverse-shot content that we’ve been getting for dozens of chapters now. This panel in particular stuck out to me because it’s got a mix of the older, more detailed style, a mix of mediums, and a lot of density.

While Saiko, Shujin, and Miura are all drawn in the more simplified style the series has been using for a while now, the idea itself is rich with detail and, more interestingly done in a mark-up of a pencil sketch. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was originally going to be filled in with line-art and tones, but was left as a pencil sketch to retain the looseness of the idea as it is being formed. We’re seeing an idea get generated.

It’s also interesting because the person conceptualizing the actual idea is Saiko, and not Shujin, which shows a nice division of labor between the two that Saiko can instantly summon to mind a visual representation of Shujin’s idea.

I like it. I like it because…

We’re Back Baby

Aww yeah, I don’t even give a shit about the fact that The World is all About MIA was a bust, we’re back. The excitement is crack-a-lacking and Shujin isn’t literally dying from writer’s block.

This is good.

Even though it’s definitely more of a pain in the ass to recap, I much prefer this shift into building momentum for a series the boys are interested in working on because there is a definite internal sense of momentum building at this point.

One thing I’ve observed in doing these recaps is that, for the most part, each volume has pretty consistently covered one major arc in the series. Volume 6 was the hospital, Volume 7 was Shujin’s mishaps with the ladies, Volume 8 was the lead-in to Tanto, and Volume 9 was the fallout.

So if I had to guess – and this is an educated guess, so I assume it’s a good one – we’re going to be spending almost, if not all of volume 10 on the lead-in to a new series. A new successful series.

I am excite. My excite is immeasurable. My day is made.

Much as I want to be In the new series as quickly as possible, it is not a coincidence that these arcs span a volume on Ohba’s part. Given how meta and how intentional the writing has been up to this point.

All that is to say that it’s kind of obvious MIA was not going to be the series that did it. Although I did find it hilarious that Ohba called himself out again for his shit women characters.

I have a feeling this conversation was a real-life one, at one point, especially around the time Misa got introduced in Death Note.

Anyway. As I pointed out with the Janken gag, we have three serialization meetings which means that

The Rule of Threes is in Play

Yeah. So if you’re a newbie to storytelling, photography, or most artistic forms, you might not be familiar with the Rule of Threes. But it’s pretty straightforward. You use a technic three times. The first two times go one way to create anticipation, and then in the third round, it goes the other way.

So if Goldilocks has three cups of porridge, the first two are bad, and the last one is good. If you show someone playing Janken three times, the first two are losses, the third is a win.

It’s also in a Kishoutenketsu. You setup, develop, then twist. And often the third comes at a narratively pregnant moment where the anticipation of failure actually costs something.

So they were never going to get serialization one. That was obvious. And they might get serialization two, but I doubt that as well. The most narratively satisfying point – and what will likely take the most chapters – is the buildup over 9 chapters when everything is on the line, the boys will come up with The idea that will make their careers set off.

And I’m not gonna lie, I’m feeling this momentum personally too.

Meta Notes

I’ve been doing this blog now for three years and right now I’ve had a tough time getting through it because I’m putting more energy into creative writing. While I have done creative writing a lot since starting the blog, I’m putting more and more time into my writing and yielding greater dividends.

On the one hand, it is exciting to see my skills get up to par where I feel confident in selling creative work for money. But I’ve been struggling to keep pace with that and writing this blog.

However, I’m going to see this through to the end because I feel like I’m growing alongside these boys and I want to see them succeed to motivate me to my own success.

I don’t know where this website is going to go afterward, and I may slow down. But I feel the momentum of this chapter in my own life, which makes this a double joy to read.

And that’s partly because

The Boys are Confident

That’s what I really like about this arc so far. Saiko in particular is taking things in stride which I love to see. That little smirk at the end about Miura’s change could mean any number of things. but for now, I’m going to chalk it up to him having faith that his editor is doing something right and going with the flow.

But also, Shujin is activated around an idea he likes. Even though it falls apart at the end. And seeing him actually come up with too many pages for Chapter 2 is freaking exciting man.

Although holy shit, that premise is dark. It was wild to see such a morally repugnant premise be the fodder for Shujin’s imagination. But I guess it makes sense. He likes rigid rules and limited sci-fi because it gives him just enough flexibility to play with the world, but not so much that he gets overwhelmed.

I like the same stuff.

I also learned that unattractive main characters are no-no at jump. Which, I mean, ok.

But seeing Shujin confident was so nice. Even getting Naughty with his bride and actually talking about the manga in a way that was enthusiastic.

And now we get to the Rule of 30s with Miura

Miura’s “Heelturn”

So technically Miura hasn’t done any significant growth in the mechanics of how he acts. He is fundamentally the same. But his narrative choice to prioritize the boys over his own well-being is so goddamn welcome man. And it means he has changed just a little bit.

He’s made the conscious decision to prioritize someone else over him. It’s great.

Which is how real growth goes. One step at a time.

But his team-up with Hattori seems kinda transparent. Like suddenly having decisive ideas and actual notes for the boys? What has happened to Miura? I like that Saiko’s not so dumb as to miss that this change is rather dramatic. But it still works because it’s motivated by sincere desire and because Hattori is good ol’ puppet master.

Which is also reflective of Hattori’s change. He seems to have taken Sasaki’s note to ask for things he wants directly to heart because he’s no longer playing political games with Ashirogi, he’s giving them what they need to win. Which says to me there’s a good chance we’re getting to Hattori x Ashirogi manga making dream team Ichiban.

Banzai.

And that’s so relieving. It feels so good man. Everyone has demonstrated tangible character growth incrementally over 80 chapters. Which is one of my greatest joys in serialized longform meting.

Second only to…

Shizuka

This arc has been building for about 10ish chapters, and now the payoff is spectacular. For me at least. Nakai let me down hard, but at least for this moment, seeing Shizuka coming out of his shell, no matter how awkward and stilted warms me because of my own issues with being internal and socially isolated.

I’ve been told I’m charming, but I spend a lot of my time alone. And seeing characters who are lonely break out of their shells is some black tar 99% pure wish-fulfillment on my part.

But the best part – like Miura, Hattori, and The Boys – is that it’s been built up over several chapters and, more importantly, is a believable step. This has been a months-long process in-universe from a guy who was practically mute. And now he’s talking to people on a limited basis and leaving his apartment.

I don’t care that he’s awkward and makes Yoshida uncomfortable with it. That’s real progress. That’s what it looks like. It’s a few dribbles of water eroding a boulder. You’re not just magically whole. But you can get better.

So this chapter did a lot for me.

Although…

Kaya and Miho

One of the things I was not quite as jazzed about was Shujin setting himself up to try harder by indebting himself with Kaya’s spending. It’s a bad idea and poorly thought-out and has every opportunity to end poorly. It’s almost as dumb as Hiramaru buying the Porsche and condo. But it’s not a joke this time.

It’s also clear that Kaya is supportive, but still nervous given her abrupt change to frugality. So I don’t think she’s quite as OK with things as she appears, but she is cool with her husband not killing himself to work anymore.

It’s nerve-wracking

And Miho’s doing a lot of work. I don’t really have much to say about it.

But now we’re onto Serialization Number 2. What will “Miura” Suggest next? Who knows. But for now, let’s relish in the feeling.

Bakuman is back, and I am thrilled.

Until next time,

Peace.

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